Redstart Reverie

American Redstart

The latest star appearing at 155 N. Wacker Drive is an adult male American Redstart. I started seeing his brethren a week and a half ago, later than the females and immatures. And like his kin, he has eluded my gaze and the camera lens, much as I expected.

This morning I got to his selected green space a little earlier than usual. It was windy and dark in the shade of other buildings; the sun wasn’t making much of an appearance yet, and I wondered what good it would do me with the days getting shorter. Then I heard the redstart’s chip note, so I knew he was around, but I didn’t see him for several minutes, and then when I did it was only the suggestion he made by quickly rustling a few leaves.

After I’d been waiting patiently for about ten minutes, as if to taunt me, he suddenly landed right in front of me on the ground and left just as quickly! I was too slow with the camera. I consoled myself with the thought that it wouldn’t have been a very spectacular shot anyway on that dull background.

I had been standing around for about 20 minutes now. The only other bird I saw at the corner this morning was a Swainson’s Thrush. There might have been another warbler, but I could not see it clearly enough. I practiced my imitation of the Redstart’s chip note, until I could wait no longer.

I checked my watch for the last time, and then said to the redstart, wherever he was, that it was time for me to leave. Now was his last chance if he wanted his picture taken. So what did he do?

He flew into the plants right in front of me, and posed for about 15 shots. I don’t know why, but he suddenly seemed intrigued by the whole affair.

Did he see his beautiful reflection in my camera lens? Did he feel my admiration for his colorful self through the viewfinder? Or did he finally decide to have a word with me since I’d been paying attention to the thought of him for so long, while scores of other humans passed by not noticing him?

Whatever it was, we bonded in that moment or two. And I got enough good vibes off the encounter to carry me through the entire week.

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